It had been awhile since I had done a race & I had never had the pleasure of doing a race in Ireland. The last one being the Gate River Run 15K last March. I had tried to do as well as I could in the race, but was challenged with a lot of changes.
The good news is I can still do around 45 or so minutes. I typically train at a 8:30 pace, so I was even off from that. I was a touch jet lagged at the race, & let’s all be real here, I was never a Usain Bolt. I’d say fastest days are likely ending their reign. One thing I did do, & do a lot at the race, was laugh. You just can’t beat the Irish for a positive vibe & optimistic view on everything. I typically “hit the door” with anything negative, but notice in Ireland I have to do it hardly ever. Love it!
I got to the store on Friday night by the “hair of my chinny chin-chin”. I had gotten registered online & thought that race packet pickup ended at 8. It ended at 6. When I noticed this, it was 5:00 pm, on a Friday night. I don’t recommend renting a car and driving downtown under duress when you are new to a city, & new to the other side of the road. My saving grace was the guy standing outside smoking, close to a few blocks from the corner to where the store was located. He said, “there’s a parking garage over there”.
Once parked, I was running through the city to get to the store & since my phone didn’t have service, I had to ask for help again. I asked the 2 guys standing on the corner near Wicklow avenue where Elverys Sports was located. It was 5:45 and the clock was burning. They were happy to help & I was only a few stores away.
The staff couldn’t have been nicer. I know they might’ve thought I was crazy when I gave them a bag of stroopwaffels, but they had no idea how much hassle I had gone through to get there before the doors shut for the night. I had planned to do it anyway, but it was even more deserved to such a nice staff. I had blown in from Amsterdam to the US a few days before & brought over a few bags of cookies for friends in Ireland. I’m a flight attendant, we are either on time or an hour early, so inching the needle of the clock right up to the minute was uncomfortable. It was like being late for a class in college when you’re first on the roll or just barely making the train you knew you had to be on. I don’t recommend driving at 5 o’clock in the city if you aren’t familiar with the roads. I had driven in Ireland once before, last year. The only thing that kinda was nerve wracking this year was there was a train going the other way that was about 2 feet away from my drivers side door, with no railing in between. There’s a reason you can’t roll the back windows down easily. As a retired babysitter, I frequently catch myself thinking of safety, and what could go wrong if you didn’t. On the other side of the car was a sidewalk full of pedestrians and the cyclists were all around, some weaving in & out of cars. It was a clear sunny day in Dublin, & everyone was out to enjoy it, including myself.
I got my race number and the next morning headed over to the race start a couple of hours early. I was hoping to meet up with some of the editors of Irish Runner Magazine at some point and also see a few monuments around the park that I had seen there a couple of years before. I had been there on a layover with work as a flight attendant. Jim Schofield Photography got shots of me on around the park back in 2015, running with elite athlete and Connemara 100 winner, Brian Ankers. Before I got to the monument, I was driving & did a quick glance & noticed about 20-25 deer parked in a soccer field at about 8:30 AM. I had never seen anything like it. A clear day, even Bambi & her posse were out to take a gander at the city for a sunbath and graze pre-race.
I hopped out of the car and grabbed my phone. It was something that was only good for pictures or email if I had wifi, so I was glad I had it then. I weaseled as far up as I could to the deer without disrupting their day. There was another photographer there & he later said they were “very relaxed”. They let me get about 5 small car lengths away before one doe stood up and probably said to her buck husband, “she’s crazy and so are you if you stay here”. Most of the bucks were big and I counted an 8 point set of antlers on one. I don’t hunt, at least not this week, and have heard in my travels a bit about deer. The bucks were a riot, positioned all around. The doe that stood up eventually calmed down & went back to eating. I made a video you can find posted on @bethadair13, on Instagram, if interested in this. It was the perfect start to my day. In the US, the media has said the deer ticks will be bad all over this year & about the last thing I need is Lyme disease so I did check when I got back to the hotel.
The race itself was a blast. Pacers running with green balloons, a flat course a good bit, in and out of shade and a hill located around mile four or five. I did stop once, something I rarely do, but I knew I wouldn’t set a personal record, so why not. I can’t say I won’t try to do faster next time, because that is just how I am, but I do races mostly for getting out and socializing. It’s so fun to meet people from different professions around the world. If you are into sales, going to a race is a good place to market.
After the race, I got a picture with some locals at the end and ran to the car to grab a few things. When I came back to meet up with some more friends, most of the race was clearing off to the childrens area. It was also a family run, but I had hoped to see Frank Greally (@FrankGreally1) and Feidhlim Kelly(@FeidhlimKelly) and any other writer and runner. After aimlessly walking around, I went into the Legends tent, a place I had been invited to attend by one of the editors. When I got there, I wasn’t interested in food, but water was great, & there was a hysterical man there that said, “so you’re here to raid the food table again are ya?”. So funny! I laughed, chatted a bit and then asked where Feid was, and he said go to another table. While walking around there, another man approached me and asked if I had read the book he wrote called, A Golden Era. His name was Michael Gygax. I said no, I was unfamiliar. He said “well it’s for sale for 20 euro”. I bought a book and chatted with him a bit. He noticed my team running shirt, American accent, and asked where I was from. He said he was also a playwright and author to other publications and thanked me for buying his book. I wanted to
“market” my area a bit, for the Gate River Run 15K in Jacksonville, FL. The only way I knew how to do it in Ireland was give a local the shirt to the number one running specialty store in town, 1st Place Sports. This sparked a short conversation on social media and marketing.
I am not paid to do these things, I do them as a gift on gratis on occasion. It was easy for me to do, and I enjoy it. I also told them about sportscasters from my area and what they do, but not sure it sunk in. I asked Michael if he had thought of marketing his book more on social media, He was full of personality and said, “When I have time to do social media to market my book in between writing plays and books, I will get right on it”. The laughs were just getting started. Shortly thereafter, Noel Berkeley (@NoelBerkeley) walked up and introduced himself and asked where I was from. Probably the most entertaining thing to me that day was “You know the record holder to your hometown race(gateriver15k.com) still holds the record”. I did know that, and agreed that the talent was a gift that was polished by hard work and training. Noel later said, “you know, I competed with him in the ’92 olympics and he’s a stellar athlete. He never did drugs and always worked hard.”. I didn’t doubt any of this, ’cause I had gotten advice from him several years ago on drillwork and how to improve my gait and foot strike. I let Noel talk though, and tried not to interrupt. If you google the Gate River Run record holder, you’ll find his name, and maybe a story on his wife and girls, all of which are very pretty. He’s running a company he created as well. I lost touch several years ago, but hope they are well.
I walked off thinking, “man, it’s a really small world”. I was in the elevator with three people earlier that day and they lived on Beach boulevard, about 15 minutes from my place in Florida and now I’m a race in Ireland talking to guys that know people from my hometown. It was a trip.
I was invited to go partying on the beach but needed to get back to the hotel for check out and to get to my castle hotel about 2-3 hours away. I was quite excited to get my vacation started. I was grateful to the hotel for extending checkout to 3 pm and wasn’t rushed. Before leaving town, I met the Ankers and got caught up.
I had only met two of the Ankers four kids before, so it was a treat to meet the other two girls, Lucy and Sophie. Aaron, their son had grown at least an inch since last year and Saoirse was even prettier. Lucy was excited to share the stories of her horseback riding adventures and Sophie enjoyed telling me about the beach trip they were taking the next day. Jenny, Brian’s wife, is still as fun and sweet to be around as well. I video recorded Brian on some of his training mileage, which still floors me, and I posted on my social media pages one short video interview. The best news was that Lucy’s femur was completely recovered. She had broken her femur two years back jumping at a jumpy house and was fully recovered with no limps and ready to take on the Kentucky Derby. I was highly entertained. Fearless, it’s a way I remember being, to the tune of a few childhood fractured or sprained ankles, that heeled and only miffed me off that I was missing recess at school and slowed me down.
Given I had planned to attend this event a few months prior, I didn’t realize that it hit Father’s Day weekend. I did feel like a shaved dog at one point about this, as it’s shameful I wasn’t in South Carolina with my Dad. Gratefully, my Dad understands my goals and outgoing personality and enjoyed hearing about my adventures when I called on Father’s Day from Ireland. I’ll be in South Carolina a month late, in July to see my family. (I was glad my phone stared working and once checked into the hotel in Bunratty, and I was able to chill a touch, and get rolling with my plans to see the sights.) If interested, check my blog a bit later to read on my adventures of the Cliffs of Moher and tooling to West Port.
I left the race laughing and motivated to fitness train harder and show up in September prepared for ventures related to my modeling goals. I plan to tear it up and the vacation did what it was supposed to, recharge.
I hope this finds you laughing and if you aren’t, find a way to do it everyday. I know I will be:-)